Distinctions Between Emotion and Feelings

BURL: OK, next, what is the difference between a feeling and an emotion?  I submit it is much akin to that between color and ‘particular colors.’  As I recently explained using a quote from LCK, a physical feeling has a datum (what it is) and a subjective form (HOW it is), and I stated that emotion is the subjective form of a feeling.  I believe KB is confused when saying things like “emotion evolves into feeling.

KB: I think we are using emotion and feelings in two different ways, and I think this is because I’m seeing emotion as the operating system of a networked-intelligence without any thoughts whatsoever being ascribed to the nature of emotion and feelings. I’m treating them solely as energy as I shall attempt to explain below.

I do think feelings can be likened to colors, especially in regards to an electromagnetic wave form, but emotion exists on a far deeper plane, which is why I prefer to say emotion is like gravity, a virtual force of attraction, a field wherein all objects of mass are responsive to all other objects of mass, whereas feelings are more sophisticated (from our point of view) as are the wave functions of the electromagnetic variety such as light. Emotion evolves into a feeling as consciousness’ resolution of the unified field problem. What we perceive of as time; is consciousness’ connection to all the physical energies. In other words, consciousness apprehends how all things are connected even though we don’t.

Feelings (which inform organisms how to evolve) evolve from emotion just as animals evolve from emotion because I see emotion operating on a plane far deeper than our sense of awareness. For example, I go to the store to buy a variety of things and I look at the money I spend, the goods I receive as well as the work I perform in terms of my own particular frame of reference. But as a consumer I’m just one charged particle of the economy and in a way unbeknownst to me, my economic activity contributes quantitatively to such things far beyond my awareness, such as the trade deficit between American and China and the exchange rate between Iceland and Lithuania. All this deep “network” information is embedded in every transaction and exchange of goods and services that I am part of, and yet it exists far below the awareness of any participant in the economy and ends up affecting me so indirectly I (and apparently most economists) can never connect the dots. A feeling is easier to be aware of, but emotion as its organizing principle is far more subtle. If I’m Xenophobic, I have no idea I’m attracted to foreigners. I think I hate them and then I think of all kinds of reasons why my hatred is justified so that I can mitigate my fear which is based on a layer of unresolved emotion held deeper still.

In my mind emotion is a medium that physiology and neurology evolves from so that all organisms are attracted to each other and in order to implement the principle of conductivity so that no matter what they do it will end up in service to the network. In other words, if information only arises from the network, it’s not possible for any organism to generate information that is in contravention to the network. Nature doesn’t leave evolution up to individuals to decide on their own any more than an economy lets consumers print their own money and so emotion can’t be understood as a self-contained phenomenon in isolation from the whole of the network and that arrives at meaning by virtue of what it comes to mean to any given participant. I’m arguing that organisms didn’t evolve to have emotion anymore than they evolved to have gravity. Organisms evolved in response to emotion just as they evolved in response to gravity. Emotion enforces a thermodynamics on every individual, just like an economy puts everyone in debt just by being present in it, and so they must contribute or else, and so emotion works on us in ways far deeper than we can be aware since it’s the principle on which our very viscera is founded.

Emotion has three phases that serve as the logic to the network, Emotion – > Unresolved Emotion – > Resolved Emotion and feelings evolve from this medium to become the message, i.e. how to resolve unresolved emotion by networking with others.

One problem with the color wheel analogy, at least as far as I’ve seen it represented, is that there’s no place for sexuality or personality. Lust is on the same wavelength as love (as in more intense-and yet incongruently at the same time more shallow) but then aggression doesn’t fit in with sexuality on that same color wavelength. We can’t get away from the linear systems of relationships.

The other problem with current ways of looking at emotion is that there’s actually no such thing as emotion, it doesn’t exist as something that can be measured in isolation from the whole body/mind as it’s the confluence of physical and nerve energies into a state of tension, the release from which is emotion, so it’s not actually present as anything tangible. We have to take the whole of the organism to understand the presence of emotion. This is why (according to Jerome Kagan: “What Is Emotion?” his answer to his title being: no one knows) no philosophy, psychology, neurology has a whole model for emotion, especially one that can accommodate animals as well as humans, sexuality, animal behavior/learning, etc.

QUOTE: “William James, in the article ‘What is an Emotion?’ (Mind, 9, 1884: 188-205), argued that emotional experience is largely due to the experience of bodily changes. The Danish psychologist Carl Lange also proposed a similar theory at around the same time, so this position is known as the James-Lange theory. This theory and its derivatives state that a changed situation leads to a changed bodily state. As James says ‘the perception of bodily changes as they occur IS the emotion.’

KB: I agree that emotion on the level of the individual is affiliated with bodily changes, but this is indicative of how change is emotionally ionizing the organism in a network coherent way, i.e. formatting the emotional battery. So in my view perceptions don’t arise from a purely subjective interpretation of what’s transpiring because there is always a heavy network agenda freighted with every interaction. If emotion is how we “explain and organize our actions,” then it seems James is meaning that it’s a mental phenomenon and then there are two possibilities which I could not concur with: either, animals don’t have emotion, or they think and thus are capable of emotion.

“James further claims that ‘we feel sad because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and neither we cry, strike, nor tremble because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be.”

BURL: This theory is supported by experiments in which by manipulating the bodily state, a desired emotion is induced.[4] Such experiments also have therapeutic implications (e.g. in laughter therapy, dance therapy). The James-Lange theory is often misunderstood because it seems counter-intuitive. Most people believe that emotions give rise to emotion-specific actions: i.e. “I’m crying because I’m sad,” or “I ran away because I was scared.” The James-Lange theory, conversely, asserts that first we react to a situation (running away and crying happen before the emotion), and then we interpret our actions into an emotional response. In this way, emotions serve to explain and organize our own actions to us.”

KB: We’re arriving I think at some good points of distinction. So in my view of emotion as energy that works as a “force” of attraction, I’m not attaching any thought to the pure emotion or to a true feeling. Also, I’m suggesting that the phenomenon of perception is involuntarily and subconsciously shaded by the emotional battery well before the thought process (in humans) can get going. As a matter of fact, by the time the “charge” reaches the brain, the real show is over. Something is happening in a discrete patterned way well before the higher processes of the nervous system has anything to deal with. First, the body/mind is displaced by change and there is an involuntary rising of the degree of tension effected upon the individual. If a preyful aspect can be sensed, then the individual senses a release from tension and this is what we perceive of as a “current” of emotion. If a predatory aspect is sensed, then there is a gap in consciousness, this disconnect triggers a fear and accesses a physical memory. Either way, the animal will feel attracted to the source of change, but already its perceptions have been organized in service to the network.

If the individual can still sense the preyful aspect through the influence of physical memory, then a feeling will evolve in order to make contact or connect with this stimulus. The stronger the arousal through hunger (sensing preyful aspect) circuitry then the stronger the feeling and more fully it can manifest as a pure force of attraction (recapitulating the underlying emotion) that simultaneously can facilitate flipping of polarity to fit with object of attraction or magnetic deflection of energy of attraction to calm the object of attraction. If at any point during the experience there’s more energy in the system than the emotional capacity of that individual can handle (and here in regards to carrying capacity is where a feeling of being connected to the network comes in to shape the nature of the perception) then ingrained habits or instincts take over, and even this can happen well before thoughts can make sense of what’s going on, and in this latter case a feeling does not even evolve into being.

In regards to crying, in my model this happens because there’s more energy going through the system than the individual can handle, which is why crying can occur throughout all kinds of states, fear, joy, laughter, pain, sadness. The crying individual is becoming more prey-like, melting the boundary between its form and others, its persona and personality are dissolving; they are moving their basic physical essence, becoming conductive and thereby attracting the emotion of others. People seeing someone crying concentrate on the vulnerability of such an individual (preyful) and this helps them get past the predatory aspect of that person and they divine a new being with whom they can attune; they feel capable of going up and connecting. When dogs smell each others saliva and tear ducts they too get past the boundary erected by the central nervous system as well as physical memories of resistance they are carrying.

Striking out (breaking one’s fall due to the violence of the emotional collapse) or trembling (radiating a lot of energy) are also overloads of the emotional capacity and a true feeling hasn’t been able to evolve into existence in order to channel this energy. Notice how when a football player gets hit on the opening kickoff of a game their nervousness (and perhaps even trembling) immediately dissipates. By being struck they are “back” in their body and their mental perception is wiped clean so that a feeling can begin to evolve. Their will, i.e. a faith in a feeling, can take over.

Since the Big-Brain can harbor mental memories of emotion, and because it is the only agency that can execute physical action, therefore everything about the emotional process is mirrored in nerve function, but that doesn’t mean it is therefore the source of emotion or what renders the deepest sense of meaning. Criminals and psychopaths are able to mimic emotion because they have the math of it in their brains (as do insects, bacterium, and viruses in their manner of organization) and they are able to convince others of the validity of their state, but it’s just the mental mechanics, they aren’t feeling a thing. So I can see how manipulating body states can induce these mental memories of emotion as can an electrical stimulation of some ganglion or brain structure. But other than therapeutic approaches that are designed to keep someone rooted in their body and cultivate their will, I believe these prove to be artificial and short term, like taking a drug to get high and artificially inducing the feeling of weightlessness, but out of context with the E->UE->RE template that must be serviced over the long haul, and therefore drugs prove transitory and self-destructive because it’s not part of a natural, organic process by which true feelings evolve. It’s akin to electrically stimulating a muscle and getting it to react as if by conscious direction, but it’s just an artificial stimulation that isn’t part of a coherent pattern of movement. In the dog world we see owners doing all this technically correct learning theory but it’s out of context of group purpose and the puppys emotional circuits are fried: too much stimulation without grounding.

Also, because emotion is the operating system of consciousness, even thoughts, no matter what they are, always contribute to the force of attraction in the system. On the deepest level of emotion, from the network’s point of view; it doesn’t matter how the individual perceives or interprets the experience. From the network’s point of view, the fundamental question, and this is the one that the individual’s very physiology and neurology is organized around, is: was more unresolved emotion acquired, or was unresolved emotion resolved? Other than this it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things what the individual does with this energy because no matter what happens the individual has been energized and one way or another, sooner or later, maybe not even in his lifetime; it will evolve into a feeling. Humans may hate but that’s merely an incredibly intense form of attraction that has overwhelmed the emotional capacity of the individual thus charged, however from the networks’ point of view: nevertheless there’s more energy (force) available to the system and when it becomes aligned in a more complex manner it will then be able to accommodate the movement of that energy and unresolved emotion will be resolved.

And then there’s another very important consideration here to return to James famous example of being frightened by a bear. Because unresolved emotion potentiates the higher centers of the nervous system, (which means that how we respond to how unresolved emotion makes us feel determines how we construct our network) where we are in the emotional process, in other words where our feelings plug us into our network, another way of saying this is where we feel we are on the circle, are we at the prey or at the predator polarity, predetermines how we will perceive the bear and interpret the experience and this is happening well before any thoughts can be thought. So in my model, a person having been scared by a bear is nevertheless first and foremost energized and thereby attracted to the bear, but in this case, with a force that is more powerful than their capacity can handle and so they run (attraction collapsed into fear). If they cry their tears are an involuntary “appeal” so to speak to the mercy of the bear’s predatory aspect. (The bear as a “being” triggers a physical memory, most likely of an intimidating father figure.) Now on the other hand, to an unarmed Indian Warrior counting coup, because of where he feels connected to his circle, his tribe, he feels an arousal in his attraction to the bear that is stronger than his balance/fear of falling and so he acts like predator going toward the bear as he tries to touch it. By acting like a predator, he can reflect the energy of attraction the bear is projecting at him, right back to bear and this might be more than the bear can handle and so we observe flipping of polarity between them happily increasing the odds of said warrior returning to his people as a hero, with bear alive as sacred totem.

If “emotion is the subjective form of physical feelings;” then this seems to me to be in contravention to the infectious nature of emotion that is such an overwhelming feature of emotion. For example, someone throws up because they have either eaten something noxious or have just learned something violently noxious to their well being, that’s their subjective perception of their bodily changes. Yet others, observing them, and who have no such subjective experience of an internal discomfort be it physical or psychic, nevertheless feel an irresistible urge to vomit. This is because by default as highly social beings they have projected their e-cogs into that individual and so when energy moves in that individual, they feel a corresponding virtual movement within their own bodies that predetermines what they will perceive; their body will change in conformance to how the network has constructed its constituents and this predetermines their subjective experience.

Similarly, we can also note that there are musical chords of universal emotional content; or a universal mathematical expression of symmetry that defines the emotional attraction to beauty in every race and society (a sense of beauty equals release from the specific kind of unresolved emotion that is caused by the instinctual aspect of the human intellect) and again these operate beneath the level of subjective interpretation. So there is a universal principle of emotional conductivity implemented through the nature of every organisms emotional make-up and which determines that all change that is experienced will become part of consciousness as a monolithic force of attraction. Feelings are the auto-tuning/feedback dynamic by which all the elements of the network will end up self-organizing so that this force will ultimately be harnessed to create new energy.

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Published January 16, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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44 responses to “Distinctions Between Emotion and Feelings”

  1. Burl says:

    This should be helpful for NDT practitioners. Maybe this article can be used by your readers to tweak the definitions, kind of like the aim of a Wikipedia entry.

  2. Burl says:

    I re-posted the previous comment over with the DEFINITIONS article where I meant it to be – sorry,

    Agreed that emotion is ineffible even for professionals everywhere; as are sense perceptions like color or smell – also ineffable. All are physical perceptions received thru our bodies.

    I followed you pretty well when you began talking about the bear. I do agree that emotion is the most profound aspect of our beings. I do not mean to imply any need to stress a dog’s consciousness very much, other than to say they do have it. Whitehead is insistent on this in his theory that we perceive in the mode of symbolic reference.

    A _basic_ level of consciousness is needed for all sentient creatures to assimilate physical sense perceptions into a ‘mapping’ of their environment so as to move around in it. In high drive mode, conscious sense perception is about it – the rest is emotion-filled action. Then, in calm quiet episodes of discovery, some more high grade reasoning processes may be entertained. We are the same, but it seems that many humans are able to entertain conscious awareness beyond that of a dog.

    Like Marc Bekoff has said and quoted Jane Goodall, I too would give anything to be a dog for a little while.

  3. Heather says:

    Thank you for the detailed posts!

  4. In my view of emotion, there is, first of all, only one emotion, which we might call love (though that word carries too much baggage). This one emotion — love — then becomes “refracted” (not the quotation marks) into various streams of emotion.

    It seems to me that as those streams differentiate, they become expressed as two types, just as Antonio D’Amasio suggests. He calls them primary and secondary emotions, likening them to primary and secondary colors.

    I think this has merit on a certain level, but it seems to me that while we all share certain basic emotions with animals, when we attach thoughts to them, those emotions don’t become secondary, as in mixing red and blue together to get purple, they become what I would call complex emotions. For example I would say that an animal can feel the loss of a companion, but not grief, because grief carries a retinue of thoughts with it. Loss is pure emotion (or feeling) while grief is loss + thought.

    As for emotion itself, I would say that in its purest state, meaning without any thought being attached, it acts as the connecting principle/mechanism in nature, while thought is the dividing principle/mechanism. Another way of looking at it is that emotion exists outside of or independent from the self, while rational thought is what creates the self, divides it from the emotional field, and prevents it (the self) from totally disintegrating (unless it spins out of control).

    If we look at Kevin’s example of someone vomiting near you, he’s right, in that your first reaction comes from the gut and throat. You feel connected — although quite unconsciously — through your own viscera, to what’s happening to and in that person’s body. Then, immediately after the fact, you impose your thoughts onto the situation. If that person is a stranger you make judgments, like they shouldn’t be drinking so much, or “how could you do that in front of me?” If it’s someone you feel attached to, however, your thoughts may become more aligned along the lines of “Are you all right?” or “What can I do to help?”

    Here’s an interesting take on the nature of thought from theoretical physicist, David Bohm:

    “…the general tacit assumption in thought is that it’s just telling you the way things are and that it’s not doing anything – that ‘you’ are inside there, deciding what to do with the info. But you don’t decide what to do with the info. Thought runs you. Thought, however, gives false info that you are running it, that you are the one who controls thought. Whereas actually thought is the one which controls each one of us. Thought is creating divisions out of itself and then saying that they are there naturally. This is another major feature of thought: Thought doesn’t know it is doing something and then it struggles against what it is doing. It doesn’t want to know that it is doing it. And thought struggles against the results, trying to avoid those unpleasant results while keeping on with that way of thinking. That is what I call “sustained incoherence”.

    So it would seem that pure emotion is capable of creating a coherent state while thought does the opposite.


  5. sorry, that should read “note the quotation marks.”

  6. Burl says:

    LCK: So it would seem that pure emotion is capable of creating a coherent state while thought does the opposite.

    Just look at Congress!

    Bohm is saying something profound about our rational side acting pre-consciously and then making it appear to our conscious awareness that ‘I’ did that. Perhaps for dogs, with a reduced capacity/need for conscious brain functions, the nature of the experience of ‘I’ is such that they are being truer to the natural action of their bodies and thus do not have to deal with the same illusion that we do.

  7. Heather says:

    I would agree with what David Bohm says, but also extend it, because in fact “you” are running thought AND are controlled by it…but rather than be a prisoner to it, it is possible to be (in a dog-like way) less controlled by it. It is possible for a person to become aware of how their thoughts are running the show, and to spend most of their waking time being in that state of awareness (flipping polarities, a perfect wave function resonating at the frequency of the “objects” with which one comes into contact such taht the “predator” and “prey” aspects of those objects are not apprehended except in the sense that there is a lossless exchange of energy with the network…in that sense there is no longer a subject and an object -the duality is gone or one could say was never there except in the imagination – but just the network is there). The difference between two people — one being aware in that manner for 1% of the time and one being aware for 50% of the time — would be enormous. The difference between an ordinary person and what we would call an enlightened person. In every religion there may be people like this, but religion is not a requirement.

  8. Burl says:

    People are duplicitous, not dogs; this is what attracts me to them. Such attraction may have a moral significance, so maybe LCK’s notion of love is on target.

  9. Heather says:

    –People are duplicitous, not dogs; this is what attracts me to them–

    me too.

  10. Sean says:

    what attracts them to us?

  11. kbehan says:

    Great resource thanks. A few quick thoughts on Darwin. I’ve renamed his “Principle of Antithesis” – – > the Principle of Complementary Traits, predator/prey. In “Expression/Emotions” he actually diagrams the equal/opposite with dog in one moment acting predatory pole, and then preyful, transmitting energy to absorbing energy. Also, once we study emotion in terms of energy, rather than as an instinct in service to reproduction, then I believe this reveals that there is only one emotion, there isn’t human emotion relative to other emotions just as there isn’t human gravity relative to animal gravities, and then we see that the projection of e-cog into objects of attraction is the basis of compassion/cooperation/altruism and the inflection of the one emotion into many feelings. The idea of signaling in evolutionary psychology could also more accurately be seen as the transmission of energy and absorption, rather than again as some part of a communication strategy. I agree that Darwin is a very helpful means for dealing with emotion on the nitty-gritty of animal behavior.

  12. Burl says:

    Another presentation of 1 hour of Damasio on Emotion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbacW1HVZVk&feature=related

  13. Burl says:

    Another shorter vid of Damasio

    Around 2:58 min into this vid you can pause and read his definition distinguishing emotion from feeling. I figure he is more expert than any of us, and his definition is different from things we have all said here, but we have all been circling around what Damasio states.

    In his 1 hour vid, Damasio notes the pioneering work of William James (who informed Whitehead on emotion and feeling). He states that the James-Lange theory gets it wrong when saying that after a certain sense-perception, our bodies start crying and then we experience the emotion of sadness. Instead, Damasio says that the sense-perception sets off a primitive bodily action-program specific for sadness (the crying, etc). This programmed response, (or ‘applet’ as I see it) is what he defines as emotion. Our conscious awareness of this running applet is defined as a ‘feeling.’

  14. Burl says:

    Where KB said ‘emotions evolve into feelings,’ Damazio would say our bodily emotion applets cause conscious feelings of the bodily activity.

    As for Whitehead, ‘a physical prehension [a grasping of any physical entity] has an objective datum and a subjective form. So in light of Damasio, a creature’s present conscious occasion of experience prehends the emotion applet whose objective datum is the physical bodily activity it sets-off, and whose subjective form is how this activity is felt.

    I am not so sure Damasio alters James’ thinking all that much, and I think he says as much in his long video. James did not identify the action-program (crying, etc) as ‘emotion’ and then separately identify ‘feeling’ as a separate conscious result. He sort of used the two interchangeably.

    By throwing consciousness into the mix here, I am a little confused as to whether there can be subconscious (or non-conscious) feeling of emotion in Damasio’s scheme.

  15. Heather says:

    I agree with Damasio re: the James-Lange theory being backwards.

    In terms of human experience “feelings” are usually defined as thought-based intangible things, which is also the way I think Damasio is defining them.

    But in the energy-theory context, a feeling defined in that way would be simply a thought, ie, “no energy”–imaginary energy (not real)–akin to what people mean when they say “it’s all in your head;” or “it’s not reality, it’s in your imagination.”

    I *think* that a feeling how Kevin uses it (hopefully Kevin will point out if I am wrong) isn’t the imaginary, no-energy thought, it is the network-level manifestation of a being’s emotion (I think that how Damasio is defining emotion is the same as Kevin, although I don’t believe he’s attaching human labels like sadness or happiness to those emotions, and even in the human sense the emotion is the real part, the label is imagination).

    In my understanding a human crying response would be akin to the release of energy that happens when the dog is pushing – dredging up stuff from the lower layers of the emotional battery.

  16. Heather says:

    –By throwing consciousness into the mix here, I am a little confused as to whether there can be subconscious (or non-conscious) feeling of emotion in Damasio’s scheme.–

    Could there be both…assuming that he is referring to feeling by the thought-based definition and not the NDT definition…

    A person with the ability to have thoughts in reference to past, present, and future, and to notice and think about those thoughts, would be able to with a lot of effort and practice to be aware of those thougths (feelings).

    But more often he would be totally unaware of them because he would be mistaking them for reality and not recognizing them as the imaginary “movie” of his life that only exists his own mind.

    I think this is what Kevin means when he talks about the “self-contradictory logic loop”?

  17. Burl says:

    I don’t think Damasio contradicts James, he merely objectified and identified certain patterns of bodily activity as emotional action-programs, and then called the mental experience of these programs feeling (instead of emotion). Not much of a departure from James.

    I think he may want to clear this up a bit, especially vis-a-vis those murky, moody subconscious feelings we all get – or, maybe this is what he means by ‘secondary’ emotion states like enthusiasm vs discouraged. Bringing consciousness into this kind of confuses me.

  18. Heather says:

    Unlike parallel processing that happens in computing, we can’t hold two “views” at the same time – so we can’t simultaneously be aware of what is “really” happening (ie, what dogs are aware of, because they don’t have the ability to add thought on top) and *also* be tuned into our self-contradictory logic loop.

    So the dog being so social, unlike any other animal, and attuned to our emotions, is able to shine a light on our self-contradictory logic loops when their focus is on us.

    They can remind us that we aren’t tuned to reality, we are tuned to our internal channels (I’m on channel 4, the escape network, you’re on channel 16, all news all the time, etc., at one time both my husband and I had the same favorite channel and we fell in love), but we aren’t going to benefit unless we can also shine a light on ourselves at the same time and get tuned to the one and only “real” channel.

    So consciously we are able to shine a light on that self-contradictory logic loop on a moment-by-moment basis (noticing the thoughts that are popping up continuously and not following the thoughts but instead turning back to the senses and the body).

    But we can also just change channels to another logic-loop channel.

    This is what I do – I really, really resist the reality channel…so I’m glad when Kevin pops on and says something cryptic but full of meaning and relevance. Maybe it takes days and weeks of channel surfing but eventually I give up and at least as it relates to the dog I spend more time on the real channel.

  19. Heather says:

    Damasio does express that James was wrong about the causation/order of things, which I think is also one place where the energy theory and James would part at a fundamental level. In the end they both end up “in the human head” so in that respect they are not discordant. It is compelling that the energy theory can (must in fact) also hold true humans and any sentient being. I am not trying to take away from the scientists and philosophers exploring and explaining the complexities of the human experience – in fact I can’t add anything to the discussion about the extremely interesting material from Whitehead, James, Damasio, and others, because it is written at a scholarly level and I am not educated in even the basics of those disciplines.

  20. Heather says:

    haha! They do seem fundamentally different to me, but that author certainly doesn’t agree 🙂

  21. Heather says:

    Also the author thinks Demasio is flat-out wrong…of course I instantly thought of a few reasons to diagree with the author of the book review…but I think I’ve reached the point (probably passed it) where no one cares about why I think one-thing-I-know-nothing-about is completely different than another-thing-I-know-nothing-about!

    Most interesting is that it sounds like there is a rather sprited debate going on amongst people who do actually know things.

    Burl what do you think, and I wonder if Kevin has any thoughts about Demasio?

  22. Burl says:

    I think all things cognitive and neuroscience are THE hot academic research thing – over the last 2 decades especially – and everybody with a PhD is trying to nuzzle in to the feed trough full o’ $$$ and …$$$.

    Science and philosophy are blended like never before. With wondrously promising scientific achievements to date, brain research is still in its infancy, so there are many a contested theory out there. With the collapse of analytic philosophy that held sway for the past half-century, its figurehead W V O Quine admonished academic philosophers (philosophocologists as Pirsig calls them) to latch on to scientists’ coat-tails if they are to be of any further use.

    Many scientists are looking at their new philosopher-bedfellows and saying ‘heck, I can be as good a philosopher as them’ and so it goes…

  23. Heather says:

    I can see where the hard scientists could add value with their drive to find the common denominator so to speak. When something gets too complex (as in the explanation has too many special cases, or exceptions to the rules sort of complex), they will be dissatisfied. Not that because they are scientists their theories or ideas will be the “right” ones, but the nature of science demands that the theory fits all of the evidence, not some of it or even most of it.

    I think that’s the problem with any other “theory” of dogs/dog training – so much mental gymnastics.

    Also, and this is probably not a politically correct topic, but underneath lots of philosophies and animal theories is the notion of a Creator and that humans have souls or spirits or something like that that other animals don’t have. That we are fundamentally different from animals. So to suggest a difference of degree rather than kind (even not to suggest it, but to say that human thought is “nothing”, vs. that it is “everything”) is met with a lot of discomfort and resistance on so many levels, and some of that is just visceral not based on a real examination. It is not a coincidence that many scientists are not religious in the traditional sense.

  24. Burl says:

    It isn’t politically correct to characterize academucs as pigs at the trough, either, but it is a precisely accurate analogy.

    Thanks especially to the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas reinforced by Descartes, western religion dogmatically holds that the human capacity for abstract reason is what constitutes a subsistent soul (everlasting), and this soul is denied for all other species.

    No amount of atonement by the churches will ever make up for the pain and suffering this theory has brought upon our fellow creatures. Here is one of the few exceptions http://www.all-creatures.org/

    It was for the reasons above that I recommended Whitehead’s metaphysics to Kevin, as it makes no distinction in kind among the creatures. One of Whitehead’s most famous colleagues, Charles Hartshorne, was instrumental in developing process philosophy into a naturalistic religion known as process theism. What many don’t know is that Hartshorne was also a serious ornithologist and wrote an important book on why birds sing.

  25. Christine says:

    I just had to share this with all of you! It’s posted on YouTube: god_n_dog.wmv I think it’s a sentiment many of us dog lovers would appreciate.

  26. Burl says:

    Totally a most excellent video, Christine!

    Here is a radio interview w/ Marc Bekoff that puts animals and us in the right light. (a bit over 1/2 way, he mentions how theologians are starting to get it)


  27. kbehan says:

    Thanks for the link. I am skeptical about such a term as “moral intelligence” in animals as discussed on this show. I find it ironic that “Skepticality” loses its skepticism when it comes to dogs and such concepts. While as far as I’m concerned the study of apes, chimps, rats and birds in captivity could be ended altogether, I believe that ultimately what will emerge from the animal/ethics movement and the current trend in science to find thinking in animals and turn them into persons, will be to assert state control over individual decisions. The better way would be to entertain all voices and concentrate on raising people’s awareness rather than setting up external moral authorities to decide what is best for our dogs which is where this is all going. So I would turn the question around on Beckoff and ask not; why are humans threatened by emotion in animals, (which he immediately conflates with a moral intelligence and thereby denies the nature of emotion), but rather, why are human scientists threatened by the idea of a non-intellectual intelligence such as emotion? At one point Beckoff says something to the effect; “You really have to have a very sophisticated brain to have a rich emotional life.”Currently all science reduces everything to a mechanical psychology driven by thoughts. I’m arguing that the only way one can apprehend the wild nature of the domestic dog (or any animal) is via an energy theory, not a personality, thought/gene-centric theory.

  28. Heather says:

    –I’m arguing that the only way one can apprehend the wild nature of the domestic dog (or any animal) is via an energy theory, not a personality, thought/gene-centric theory–

    By any animal, I assume you include humans, and that is what I think is right. To really realize his full potential, a person would have to become totally aware of, and turn away, from his “rich emotional life” (ie, self-centered thought-based contradictory logic loops). Not the functional thought, study, constructive-type thought, but all the most interesting but in the end destructive stuff. Most of what is under the umbrella of “ethics” would have to be thrown out too, not to mention simplistic notions of good and evil…talk about resistance!

  29. AZDogermanStu says:

    I wasn’t sure where to post this comment. I was listening to your interview with Neil and I was wondering what the relationship between the emotional battery and our human ability to project ourselves into the future and past through out conceptual abilities. You say that to trigger the battery a dog needs an external trigger but it seems that people might have a larger amount of control over their battery because we can imagine circumstances that aren’t happening in the present. Isn’t this what allows us the ability to manipulate our dogs’ batteries?

  30. kbehan says:

    The Ancient Greeks had an expression that the “Furies attack through the very faculty which denies their existence.” To me this means that the smarter one is, the more likely they are going to respond in knee jerk fashion to the way their battery makes them feel. I think this is why intellectuals do so many emotionally destructive things that one would think they would have easily avoided as being illogical.
    Also, while it is true that we can trigger our dogs batteries, but then our dog is triggering ours as well and so if one goes by thinking, then they are not in control of the resulting emotional process as they think they are.
    Finally, mental memory is not the same as physical memory. Mental memory is remembered whereas physical memory is relived. And imagining something is not the same as feeling something, so again, being in the moment and going by feel is the only way to get past the illusion of nature as a mirror. Hope this addresses your questions.

  31. christine randolph says:

    i think we could keep the “good” and the “evil” but maybe we need to rethink the idea of humans’ great achievments being based on being SOOOOOO logical all the time….

  32. Burl says:

    Since dogs do not talk, does this imply that they are right brain dominant?

    Does anybody know much about the hemispheres w/r to dogs?

    A relevant article http://www.psy.utexas.edu/psy/announcements/pdf/pmLRBrainOrigins.pdf

  33. Burl says:

    Does one-sided eye specialization explain why dogs like to move in circles?

  34. kbehan says:

    In my model emotion comes first, then physical, as energy comes before form. So if there is a one-sided eye specialization that would mean to me that it’s a physical structure as an outgrowth of an underlying emotional process. For example, dogs can always hold back a quantity of urine, 1/360th of a drop can be halved into a 1/720th of a drop and this allows a dog to leg lift all day long. This physical capability with related structures of sphincter muscles and valves reflects the canine body/mind as an emotional battery wherein energy is always held back in reserve for moments of crisis.

  35. kbehan says:

    The most famous example of this I think is when Einstein dreamed of what it would be like were he riding a beam of light.

  36. Burl says:

    “The most famous example of this I think is when Einstein dreamed of what it would be like were he riding a beam of light.”

    I wonder what all our dogs are dreaming about? Beggin’ Strips, no doubt.

    Our first dog would howl like a wolf in his sleep.

  37. christine randolph says:

    beggin strips are yukky !! they probably dream of raw meat which they have just hunted down after lots of stalking and chasing.

    i was told dolphins rest one hemisphere of their brains at a time so they only use one eye to look out for predators
    during this “sleep” they swim in a circle, so they do not need the other eye, then they reverse direction and rest the other eye/hemishpere. how cool is that ?

    my dogs seem to prefer twirling to the left to twirling to the right, maybe this is because their equivalent brain hemishpere is more geared to that…

  38. Burl says:

    Looks like I was getting some good knowledge on from Whitehead and James (who influenced Whitehead’s metaphysics}.

    James said that in an event or experience of emotion like fear, our physical responses of changes in heart rate, sweat, breathing, trembling, etc. all come immediately, and only then do we ‘feel’ the fear – this is the James-Lange theory.

    Whitehead said that the components of an experienced event (prehensions) all have two aspects: an objective form – the datum of each prehension, and a substantial form – the affective tone or ‘feeling’ of the particular prehension.

    Emotion is the totality of all the prehensions of an event experienced by one of the involved subjects (like the wolf’s experience of the moose presence, the moose’s apparent state of awareness, its smell, the distance from the experiencing wolf, the wolf’s internal body functions (health, strength), his current state of awareness, etc.). Initial responses are at a pre or subconscious level, but will soon be giving rise to a mental prehension at the conscious level, and the substantial form of this conscious prehension is the particular feeling of fear, aggression, etc.

    Charlie Rose’s most recent episode on the brain is very good at seeing these ideas and much more. Observing animal emotion (as did Darwin) shows us how we experience these same emotions. With the developed understanding of our observations, we can take how we ‘feel’ in anger, fear,etc., and get a better insight into what Fido is up to. Enjoy


  39. kbehan says:

    Thanks Burl, I look forward to watching the Rose episode. Are you familiar with Wiggenstein’s critique of the James-Lange theory?

  40. Burl says:

    I do not recall his criticism, but I remember from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James-Lange_theory as well as an anti-Damasio article somewhere that the theory has opponents.

    I have a hunch that it is through our shared early-in-evolution limbic (emotion) brains that we will be best able to empathize our way to knowing what is is like to experience as a dog subject.

    This is the frontier of Becoff and other ethologists.

    I am 1/3 into reading “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know” by a colleague of Beckoff, Alexandra Horowitz. Good.

  41. Burl says:

    Sorry, it’s Bekoff. Dogs are so lucky not to have to learn to spell!

  42. Burl says:

    This may have been the article I recalled. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=189645&sectioncode=30 It mentions Wittgenstein, too.

    Spinoza’s pantheism is close related to Whitehead’s panentheism. James saw the subconscious as the place we experience God, and this is certainly echoed in Whitehead’s belief that God directs the creativity inherent in the universe by luring and aiming each occasion of experience to the most optimal outcome.

    On embodied emotion, I am vaguely recalling that the phenomenologist, Merleau-Ponty, was all about the body being superior to the mind. On a similar note, the late John Paul II had a philosophy he called the Theology of the Body.


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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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